20th Annual French Market Attracts Throngs, as Skies Cleared

While Friday’s April rains dampened first-day turnout for Georgetown’s annual French Market on Wisconsin Avenue’s Book Hill, Saturday’s clear and warm weather brought joyous hordes of sidewalk shoppers, browsers and diners to the three-day grand fête April 28-30 “inspired by the outdoor markets” of France and perennially one of the biggest shopping events of the year for Georgetown’s small businesses. 

According to the Georgetown Business Improvement District (BID), this year’s French Market involved 35 local boutiques, antique stores, restaurants, salons and galleries “display[ing] their discounted wares for up to 75 percent off.” Neighborhood restaurants also “offered food and drink specials, including lunch items from an outdoor grill, a sale on French wines, and pastries, croissants and macarons from French bakery Patisserie Poupon.” 

But the food delights were not only French, restaurants such as Jaco Taco, Herbivore Indian Cuisine and other non-Gallic outlets also put their treats out for passersby to enjoy. 

On Saturday and Sunday, live music, a balloon artist, roaming stilt walkers, a unicyclist, pop-up flower and book sales and other attractions were also showcased. Many who enjoyed the festivities dressed up in festive French attire, with berets, striped shirts and au currant spring fashions on full display, and pet dogs accompanying. In front of Washington Printmakers, children were learning how to create their own prints. 

“Our 20th annual Georgetown French Market was a huge success, in spite of the weather,” said Georgetown BID Events Director Debbie Young. “Saturday was an incredibly busy day for all of our merchants, many of whom said it was their best French Market sales day to date. We had live music for the first time since the pandemic, and more food offerings and entertainment than ever before – from crepe and savory tart stands, to stiltwalkers, a unicyclist, a balloon sculptor, and an accordionist. New this year, we also featured a flower pop-up shop and flower wall photo opp, and French story hour at the Georgetown [Neighborhood] library. Although the weather was not on our side on Friday and Sunday, our merchants pivoted and brought their sales and promotions indoors. As someone put it so well, ‘What’s more Parisian than a French market in the rain?’ This is one of the most important events of the year for our small businesses on Book Hill, and we appreciate all of the support they received from residents and visitors alike who came out, rain or shine.”

Rachel Shank, executive director of Georgetown Main Street (GMS) also found this year’s French Market a resounding success. “The flood of people on Saturday is a testament to the draw of the French Market. In its 20th year, we couldn’t be more thrilled about the excitement and joy the event brings year after year. This event highlights the independent businesses along Wisconsin Avenue, many of which have been in the neighborhood for decades like A Mano, Calloway Fine Art & Consulting, Bacchus Wine Cellar, and Oliver Dunn, Moss & Co.” Shank added, “Georgetown Main Street is looking forward to bringing back a smaller-scale version called Harvest Market in October, dates TBA!” 

“Despite the rain this year, the French Market gets better and better each year! We get so much enjoyment from collaborating with our Book Hill neighbors and seeing so many happy families and friends together from the local community,” said Robert Deadman of Patisserie Poupon bakery whose outdoor patisserie stand drew lines down the block.  

“Actually, it was a big surprise because all of us were kind of worried weather-wise. And we were preparing ourselves for months and months for those special days and suddenly we get all the forecasts about rain and this-and-that,” said Bassam Alkahouaji, owner of Bacchus Wine Cellar. “In the beginning it was like three days of rain. So, the BID called me and I said, ‘we’ve done it for 20 years and so we know the ups and downs.’ We always end up happy by having the French Market even if it rains or there’s snow or whatever…. We didn’t count much on Friday. But Friday was actually decent this year, even with all the rain. But everyone was holding on until Saturday. And then the weather changed and we were jammed. I mean, I had lines and lines of people. And we couldn’t host any more people. I had to ask people, you know, ‘Please, we need space. We cannot hold any more people.’ And we had, at least, I will tell you over a 1000 people came to the store. Saturday was crazy. We haven’t seen it in over 20 years. We haven’t seen any action like that.”

“It was great. Everybody had a great time,” Alkahouaji continued. “Everybody was in a good mood, laughing, smiling, you know…. So, I think the French Market as usual was a great event. What I love about it is that it brings in so many people and I talked to so many people from outside of the D.C. area. They talked to me and they came specifically for that event and we love to see non-local and non-residential [customers] for one reason: that will encourage more people to come to Georgetown to see what Georgetown and Book Hill are all about… We had tons of food this year. We had the wine tasting. I had the ‘$60 for 6 bottles [deal]’ which always does well. We sold out on Saturday. We were completely out. We were talking to some neighbors and we agreed that this is the first year where you didn’t have conflicts or misunderstandings. Everything went smoothly. Everybody made money. Everyone was happy. Everyone who showed up for the festival, they really enjoyed it. And I would like to thank everyone who was involved in this year’s French Market, the Georgetown BID, Main Street, and you guys, always you support these events that help our community.”

Balwinder Singh of Herbivore Indian Cuisine added, “Our French Market experience was amazing! Since it was our first time participating, we were not sure what to expect but we did very well and were sold out on Saturday.” 

Until next year’s French Market, à bientôt!

Here’s a slide carousel of photos from the festival. 



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